The first depth chart of the year was distributed and here's how things look for Pitt's game against Youngstown State this weekend.
Quarterback - 1. Chad Voytik 2. Nathan Peterman
No surprise here, Chad Voytik is the team's quarterback and he's a pretty good one. After a slow start in 2014, Voytik was trusted with more and more responsibility as the season progressed. He spread the ball around to more receivers and showed off his running ability. With Tyler Boyd obviously suspended in week one, Voytik will have no choice but to utilize more guys in the passing game. The possibility of growing pains under a new offensive coordinator exist, but Voytik is experienced, bright, and talented. He should be just fine this season.
Nathan Peterman played well during Fall camp, and his availability really gives this team much needed insurance at the quarterback position. Peterman should see some work on Saturday, because Pitt should be able to do what they wish against Youngstown State and give some backups an opportunity late with the game in reach.
Running Back - 1. James Conner 2. Chris James 3. Qadree Ollison 4. Darrin Hall
James Conner will likely see the attention of the entire Youngstown State defense, but the hope is Pitt has enough firepower elsewhere that Conner will still be effective despite the probability of the Penguins locking in on him. Conner will be a workhorse again, but they have other options that they can keep Conner fresh. I'm sure the plan is to handle Youngstown early, and give Conner an easy day.
Chris James has a big role on this team as the top back. He brings more speed and quickness than Conner, and he should figure to see about 10-12 touches per game this season, if not more. Darrin Hall should also see work here with Rachid Ibrahim likely out for the season, The four-star freshman earned his time, and I'm sure the staff as well as the fans are eager to see him in his first game on Saturday. Qadree Ollison is also listed, and should see work if the game is well in hand.
Fullback 1. George Aston 2. Anthony Rippole
We will see how this position is used, and my guess, it won't be too much. Aston actually just earned a scholarship as he was a walk-on player. Jim Chaney is a new offensive coordinator, and looks like he will use a lot of single back sets with double tight ends. While Jaymar Parrish is listed as the third tight end, his skill set may see him take on some snaps in this role than the actual listed Fullbacks.
WR 1. Dontez Ford Zach Challingsworth 2. Elijah Zeise Quadree Henderson 3. Jester Weah Tre Tipton
Obviously, Pitt will be without Tyler Boyd on Saturday as he serves a one game suspension. Dontez Ford figures to be Chad Votik's top option, while Zach Challingsworth will look apparently get the start opposite of him. Both guys are relatively unproven, but have been with the program for some time and should be ready to take a grasp of some serious playing time.
The two true freshmen are intriguing. Quadree Henderson will definitely be in the mix, and Tre Tipton will get an opportunity as well. Henderson can be the team's slot receiver, and a game breaker of sorts. The Delaware native is very fast and brings something different to the table nobody else in this unit can.
Jester Weah is a freak athlete and will look to break through in 2015. He received limited action last season without catching a pass. Elijah Zeise is a redshirt freshman with a lot of ability, and could be a darkhorse guy to really step into one of the main roles on this unit.
Tight End 1. JP Holtz 2. Scott Orndoff 3. Jaymar Parrish
J.P. Holtz is one of the team captains, and is one of the better players on this offense. Holtz has three years of starting experience, and should be set for his best year yet. The Shaler High School product has the potential to work his way into the NFL draft conversation with a big year. With Boyd being out this game and the receivers being inexperienced, it would not shock me to see Voytik look his way more often than usual.
Scott Orndoff has a lot of skill, and will be on the field quite a bit. He has been Holtz's top backup for the past two years, but manages to see the field a lot as it is. Like Holtz, he may see a few more targets with Boyd out of the game and him possessing more experience than the receivers.
Jaymar Parrish has a different set of skills than the other guys, and is more of an H-Back type player. He will get on the field despite being listed third on the depth chart.
LT 1. Adam Bisnowaty 2. Aaron Reese
LG 1. Dorian Johnson 2. John Guy
C 1. Alex Officer OR Artie Rowell 2. Gabe Roberts
RG 1. Alex Bookser 2. Mike Herndon
RT 1. Brian O'Neill 2. Carson Baker
Plenty to sort out here on the offensive line. As it stands now, the big surprise is converted tight end Brian O'Neill being named the starting right tackle on the official two-deep. O'Neill has bulked up and has the athleticism to be a very effective tackle, but starting so soon comes as quite a surprise. Obviously, that is a corresponding move in case Artie Rowell cannot play. If Rowell can play, Alex Officer shifts to right guard and Alex Bookser presumably goes back out to starting right tackle. So much can happen, and it appears Pitt will shuffle things around quite a bit on the right side and center.
On the left side, things are much more clear. Preseason All ACC pick Adam Bisnowaty will handle left tackle, and former five star recruit, Dorian Johnson, will be the left guard. Both players are candidates to have big seasons. The depth as a whole was hurt with Jaryd Jones-Smith being lost for the year, but this unit is not short on talent as the last coaching regime left it pretty well stocked.
Defensive End - 1. Shakir Soto Ejuan Price 2. Zach Poker James Folston Allen Edwards
Pitt will be without Rori Blair on Saturday as he serves a one game suspension. Senior Ejuan Price will step into his starting spot against Youngstown State. Price was once a pretty big recruit for the Panthers, but has probably dealt with more injuries in his college career than most. Hopefully for his sake, he can have a successful and healthy senior year. He's a bit undersized, but has a good motor and pass rushing ability.
Shakir Soto is a guy that looks the part of a big time college defensive end. Hopefully Narduzzi and company can harvest his potential. He had a promising freshman season, and a mixed bag last year. It would be big for this Pitt team to have a big time defensive end.
A pair of converted linebackers will provide depth in Zach Poker and James Folston. Allen Edwards is a JC transfer that will also see some snaps.
Defensive Tackle 1. Khaynin Mosley-Smith OR Mark Scarpinato 2. Justin Moody
It is notable that Darryl Render is not listed here, and hopefully his injury is not going to hold him out of the lineup for very long. Narduzzi even said he could end up playing Saturday despite him not being on the initial depth chart. If he's out, all three guys here have started college football games in their career, and they should be able to hold the position down for Render. Scarpinato is the most intriguing of the bunch, after taking a year off of football last season. He had a big role for Michigan State's team two years ago, and could be a nice find for Pitt.
Nose Tackle 1. Tyrique Jarrett 2. Jeremiah Taleni
Tyrique Jarrett is a massive presence for in the middle of the defense, and should be a big part of this team. Jarrett played some last year, but may have the role as the starting nose tackle all season long, even when Render returns to the lineup. Jeremiah Taleni played some last season, and even started the bowl game. He's a nice depth option for the defensive line.
Star Linebacker 1. Nicholas Grigsby 2. Matt Steinbeck 3. Mike Caprara
Nicholas Grigsby appears ready to be a full-time starting linebacker for Pitt. For many years now, Grigsby has been key depth option, but not quite a starter. He is a good player that is experienced, and should be one of the anchors of this defense. Matt Steinbeck is an intriguing player that comes over as a transfer from Bucknell. He was a star for the Bison, but obviously that is a much lower level of football than the ACC. Mike Caprara can play all three linebacker positions, and could see time here in the event of an injury.
Mike Linebacker 1. Matt Galambos 2. Quintin Wirginis
Matt Galambos is en experienced middle linebacker, with 12 career starts under his belt. The junior is the clear option to start right now, but could be pushed for playing time by sophomore Quintin Wirginis. Neither player came to Pitt as star recruits, but have proven to be steady players in the middle.
Money Linebacker 1. Mike Caprara OR Bam Bradley 2. Jamal Davis II
Mike Caprara has been in the program for a few years now and seemingly always gets a lot of attention in Fall camp, but has not done much on the field just yet. He will get every opportunity to make an impact in 2015. I still believe Bam Bradley is the more talented option here, and will eventually be the main guy at this position. Bradley is an athletic, hard-hitting player can really impact a guy more so than any of the other linebackers. Both guys should see time on Saturday.
Jamal Davis II is one of the more intriguing redshirt freshmen on the team. He is a great athlete, and many followers of the program think he can make an impact at some point in his career.
Cornerback 1. Lafayette Pitts Avonte Maddox 2. Phillipie Motley OR Dennis Briggs Ryan Lewis
Pitt boasts a good deal of experience here. Lafayette Pitts has 38 career starts at corner for Pitt. The senior from Woodland Hills has a well known career of looking like a star as a freshman, but been looking to regain the prowess ever since. He is talented, and with a new staff coaching him up, he could be set for a big senior year.
Avonte Maddox was thrown into the fire as a freshman, and had to start the final six games of the year. After being picked on by opposing offenses, Maddox proved to be a steady player down the stretch. He has some expectations to take the next step this year.
Ryan Lewis is the only guy with game experience among the backups. Phillipie Motley and Dennis Briggs both took a redshirt last season, with Briggs actually practicing as a running back. If either of the first two guys go down in any way, Pitt could have a significant dropoff here.
Free Safety 1. Reggie Mitchell 2. Terrish Webb
It was a battle during last camp between these two that was actually never settled as Mitchell moved to corner. It appears Mitchell has the job locked down for now, but Webb is a more than capable backup. Quietly, this actually appears to be one of the strongest positions on the team. Mitchell is a very good player, and Webb can step in at any time without much of a dropoff from the top.
Strong Safety 1. Jordan Whitehead OR Pat Amara 2. Jevonte Pitts
OK, here it is - the much anticipated debut of Jordan Whitehead. With a strong camp,he has earned a co-starting job here at strong safety. Obviously Whitehead is one of the biggest recruits Pitt has landed in some time, and enters the program with as high of expectations as anyone in recent memory. It will be interesting to track his career as it gets under way on Saturday. Pat Amara can really play, and showed ability last year as a true freshman. I would say his experience helps him here, but for now this is a pretty stable situation.
Kicker - Chris Blewitt Punter - Ryan Winslow Long Snapper - Pat Quirin/David Murphy
Chris Blewitt enters his third season as the team's kicker. Blewitt has been fairly reliable as far as college kickers go, despite having the infamous last name. Ryan Winslow had an up and down year as the team's punter, and hopefully he becomes more consistent this season. The Long Snapper position will be split up with Quirin on field goals and Murphy on punts.
Kick Returner - Maddox/L.Pitts/Ford Punt Returner - 1. Avonte Maddox 2. Jordan Whitehead
First thing's first, Tyler Boyd is the team's top return option and this could change for next week's game with his suspension being served this weekend. As it stands now, Maddox, Ford, and Pitts are all listed as co-starters, and likely will rotate on the job this weekend. Hopefully, Pitt is not handling many kick returns on Saturday.
Avonte Maddox apparently has the job as top punt return man Saturday, but look for Whitehead to get a chance. The freshman comes in with a solid pedigree as a ball carrier, and is electric in the open field. I also think Quadree Henderson and Tre Tipton have chance to factor into the return game at some point despite not being listed.